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Dining in the White House

This is the second post in my Presidential Palates blog series, highlighting interesting food facts about some of our American presidents, classroom-friendly recipes for their favorite dishes, and related trivia.  My goal with this series is to share information that you can incorporate into your curriculum to relate to the upcoming election.  So let’s get started!

The White House kitchen has a long and storied history.  John Adams, our second president was the first to live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (George Washington oversaw construction but never lived in the house.)  However, five decades would pass until the first stove was installed in the 1850s under Milliard Fillmore’s administration.  Up until that point, food was cooked in the fireplace.  It’s incredible to imagine a State Dinner being prepared over an open fire, right?  Today the kitchen in the White House rivals that of any of the finest restaurants in the country!

For most of the 20th century, French cuisine was the most common fare served at the White House.  It wasn’t until presidential preferences began to lean toward more American fare, that the menus became more varied and less formal.  Over the years, White House chefs have come and gone and several have written cookbooks based on their culinary experiences.  These books have revealed many of the favorite dishes of their former heads of state.

John F. Kennedy loved Chef Rene Verdon’s New England Clam Chowder.  This choice isn’t too surprising since JFK was a Massachusetts guy through and through.  His preferred lunch was a bowl of New England Clam Chowder paired with corn muffins.


This recipe is a simplified version of Chef Verdon’s, but it’s still quite tasty.  Maybe you and your students might want to give it a try.

New England Clam Chowder

4 slices bacon, diced

1  1/2 cups chopped onion

1  1/2 cups water

4 cups peeled and cubed potatoes

1  1/2 teaspoons salt

Ground black pepper to taste

3 cups half-and half

3 tablespoons butter

2 (10 ounce) cans minced clams


  1. Place diced bacon in large stock pot over medium-high heat.  Cook until crisp; add onions, and cook 5 minutes.  Stir in water and potatoes; season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and cook uncovered for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender.
  2. Pour in half-and-half; add butter.  Drain clams, reserving clam liquid; stir clams and 1/2 of the clam liquid into soup.  Cook for about 5 minutes, or until heated through.  Do not allow to boil.
  3. Serve and enjoy!

Rumor has it that a bowl of this hearty soup will make you feel downright presidential.  LOL  BTW–President Kennedy was also very fond of ice cream with hot fudge.  Yum!

More Presidential Palates coming tomorrow!  If you like this post, please click Like or leave a comment.  I’d love to hear from you!  You may also Share this post with your FACS friends!



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